A first-time homebuyer's journey: My search for waterfront views with review of Waterfront Isle

PHOTO: Stackedhomes

With all the time we’re spending at home thanks to Covid-19, I had briefly entertained the idea of moving to Sentosa when prices fell below the Singapore mainland.

Gorgeous views, low-density housing, a closely-knit community (according to online reviews), and a serene environment would make staying home every day feel like a permanent vacation, in my opinion!

After doing my research and viewing several flats, I sadly decided not to move to Sentosa, although it’s not because I find living there inconvenient (which is what most generic property articles say about living on Sentosa. If you’d like to hear more about my reasons, do leave a comment below!)

Nonetheless, I still love the idea of living by the water – it’s very calming, scenic, and supposedly good for one’s health too. Hence, when I saw the EC Heron Bay and realised that there are many other options besides Sentosa for a waterfront lifestyle in Singapore (more affordable to boot too!), I then decided to explore these developments in my next few articles.

Bedok Reservoir

PHOTO: Stackedhomes

Now, there are waterfront views (meh views) and then there are Waterfront Views (surprisingly picturesque, for Singapore, and hence the italics).

Many affordable waterfront properties in Singapore fall in the former category, in which the water views are unimpressive and somewhat undistinguishable from a large drain, such as One Canberra, which I reviewed last week.

(No offense to anyone living there!) This, however, is not the case with Bedok Reservoir, which is so expansive that I would boldly say the open water views are almost comparable to those of Sentosa. There are generally 3 spots along Bedok Reservoir where you can find developments with waterfront views:

  • Around Bedok Reservoir MRT:
    • Aquarius by the Park
    • Bayview
    • Clearwater
    • The Waterfront condo series developed by Frasers and FCL Peak, a Far East subsidiary
    • There are also several HDB blocks along this stretch but none with water views were available at the time of writing.
  • Next to Temasek Polytechnic and the Singapore Institute of Technology (Tampines Green Jade, an upcoming HDB project)
  • Around Tampines Quarry, where the water view is of Bedok Reservoir and/or Tampines Quarry (Waterview, Tropics etc)

In this article, I’ll be looking specifically at the condo Waterfront Isle, which is the newest development in the Waterfront series at Bedok Reservoir. It has 563 units and TOP-ed in 2015. The other Waterfront series condos are:

  • Waterfront Waves (405 units, TOP 2011)
  • Waterfront Key (437 units, TOP 2012)
  • Waterfront Gold (361 units, TOP 2014). )
  • There is also Waterfront View, which is either a HDB or a privatised HUDC whose 99 year lease starts in 1985, so not part of Fraser/FCL’s Waterfront series, despite the misleading name. (Whether it’s a HDB or privatised HUDC depends on which property site you refer to)

Waterfront Isle

PHOTO: Stackedhomes

The youngest of the Waterfront condos at Bedok Reservoir, the 15-storey Waterfront Isle also has the most number of units (Waterfront Gold, for example, has 200 fewer units! Some sites say that Waterfront Isle has 561 units but the Frasers website stated 563 and I assume the developer knows best.)

There are four units per floor, but only two units on the penthouse level. I must say, the penthouse at Waterfront Isle (which has a dumbbell layout) certainly makes a good first impression – just look at those double entrance doors! Even the penthouses that I’ve seen at Robertson Quay (traditionally a rather expensive area to live in Singapore) don’t make as much of a statement!

What I like about Waterfront Isle:

PHOTO: Stackedhomes
  • Eight stacks have scenic views of Bedok Reservoir. Due to the how wide Bedok Reservoir is, you won’t even need to be on a high floor to get a great view – as long as your floor clears the trees in between the development and Bedok Reservoir, you’ll pretty much see open water. (I’m guessing anything above the 4th floor in those eight stacks should be good!)
    PHOTO: Stackedhomes
  • The facilities are rather generic (sky terrace, swimming pool, tennis court, BBQ pit, three steam rooms, function rooms (Island Villas) etc) but what Waterfront Isle does, it does well:
    • The sky terrace is awesome: Even the lift that takes you up is made of glass, so you can enjoy the views during your short lift journey. (Weirdly, the lift doesn’t bring you right to the sky terrace- you need to either switch to a different lift or climb a flight of stairs to get up to the terrace.)
    • The stairs divide the sky terrace into two wings, so you can have two big parties going on at the same time (although this may not be sufficient given there are over 500 units). Both wings have lounge chairs, tables, two jacuzzi pools and an outdoor shower.
    • The wing on the right also has a BBQ pit, which the one on the left doesn’t. Sadly, the sky terrace isn’t covered, so you would probably only use it in the early mornings or evenings. I was there at three in the afternoon and 5 minutes of the sun was enough to turn me one shade darker.
      Not a boring lift journey
      PHOTO: Stackedhomes
Signage showing you what each “wing” of the sky terrace holds.
PHOTO: Stackedhomes
Looking from the middle of the sky terrace down one wing.
PHOTO: Stackedhomes
Lounge chairs for you to lie down and stare into the open waters
PHOTO: Stackedhomes
There are also regular tables and chairs so you can dine with the stars
PHOTO: Stackedhomes
An elevated BBQ dining experience.
PHOTO: Stackedhomes
one of the four jacuzzi pods (I crouched down so this is the view you should get if you’re sitting in the pool)
PHOTO: Stackedhomes
Outdoor shower (presumably for before you get into the jacuzzi)
PHOTO: Stackedhomes
  •  Initially I wasn’t sure I liked the irregularly shaped swimming pool- it twists and turns and would make serious lap swimming difficult. However, as I walked around the grounds, I soon came to see that the pool is actually very well-designed and brings to life the name of the condo very well.

The weaving of the pool actually creates lots of private enclaves, creating the illusion that you have the pool all to yourself, even if there are several groups using it. Great for pool parties!

PHOTO: Stackedhomes
PHOTO: Stackedhomes

Moreover, there is even a sizeable Spa Pavilion in the pool with all sorts of water equipment. (No one was in the Spa Pavilion when I visited, so I couldn’t quite work out what the devices were for. Nonetheless, the Spa Pavilion looked like something I’d love to use.)

PHOTO: Stackedhomes
  • The 2 BBQ Pavilions are right next to the water and rather stylish too- they wouldn’t look out of place in an Ikea ad! It would certainly be easy for guests to hop on and off the Pavilion for a swim mid-BBQ, cocktail in hand.

With a regular pool, this might be rather annoying for anyone not part of the BBQ party, but thanks to the hidden nooks created by the weaving waterways, this won’t be a problem. Anyone who finds the BBQ-goers too raucous (or smelly!) can simply swim off to their own corner of the pool.

PHOTO: Stackedhomes

There are two sunken tennis courts, with as a viewing platform elevated in between- I can see how this would be great for a teenager’s gathering, with some people playing and the rest cheering them on- with snacks- from the platform. (Alternatively, parents could use it to keep an eye on their young ones when they are having lessons!)

PHOTO: Stackedhomes
I couldn’t get a wide enough shot to show how the pavilion overlooks the tennis court so you can only see part of the pavilion and part of the court in this photo
PHOTO: Stackedhomes

There are two (small) children’s playgrounds in the estate - one has a rope climbing section which I’ve not seen in other condos before and looks quite fun to play with!

PHOTO: Stackedhomes
  • The management is very zealous: they actually clean the gym four times a day! However, I wonder if they may be rather micromanaging, as there are even notices specifying what you can and cannot wear to the gym.
PHOTO: Stackedhomes
  • The car park is spacious and there are more lots than units. (The visitor lots are all grouped together in one corner of the car park though so  some blocks are quite far from them- this may be a problem if you have elderly parents who visit often.
  • In comparison, the EC Esparis divided their visitor lots into sections in between the blocks, making life easy for anyone visiting. Still, as I always say, I’m buying a place that would make my Mom’s and my life more comfortable, and not my guests’ lives!
PHOTO: Stackedhomes
  • The car park lift lobby for each block has its own set of recycling bins and its mailboxes handily located next to the entrance.
PHOTO: Stackedhomes
  • The security guards were professional and helpful on the 2 occasions that I visited: Without prompting, they actually gave proper directions on where to park and how to get to the block I was visiting. You may wonder why I’m writing about something so banal, but you’d be surprised by how rude some guards can be, even at luxury developments!
  • There is a mini-mart within the condo, as well as Sheng Shiong right across the road.
  • There is a crossing right outside the condo that brings you directly to Bedok Reservoir.
PHOTO: Stackedhomes
  • Although the road between Bedok Reservoir and the condo is a 4-lane road, due to the landscaping, you get a decent amount of privacy for a ground floor unit.
  • Unlike Citylife@Tampines, very few ground floor units had their balcony blinds down (and the ones that did seemed to be blocking out the sunlight rather than prying eyes.) Unfortunately, you can hear the traffic from the balcony, but not really within the unit.
PHOTO: Stackedhomes

What I didn’t like:

  • Yet again, the turning into the condo is tight. There are two lanes (one for guests and the other for residents) but not really enough space for two cars to turn in at the same time, which sort of makes having two lanes defunct. In fact, I had the turn all to myself but it was so tight that both security guards started directing me so that I wouldn’t knock into the barriers between the lanes!
  • The gym is bizarrely minuscule: I think there were fewer than 10 machines (for over 500 residents!) inside! (Didn’t count.) There is another outdoor exercise section, but this only has two machines!
The Entire Gym. For over 500 units. The entire outdoor gym.
PHOTO: Stackedhomes
PHOTO: Stackedhomes
  • The area is extremely built up and all the blocks & developments are closely packed. If your unit doesn’t face the open water, not only would the views be depressing, it may also not be as well-ventilated due to all the blockage.
The view when you don’t face the reservoir
PHOTO: Stackedhomes
As you can see, Waterfront Gold is so close it’s pretty much toppling into Waterfront Isle.
PHOTO: Stackeddhomes
  • There is a side gate to the neighbouring HDB estate but it doesn’t have a ramp.
Only stairs- not very inclusive!
PHOTO: Stackeddhomes
  • The penthouse unit isn’t truly on the top floor: the sky terrace is above it. I love sky terraces but isn’t the whole point of a penthouse to get away from upstairs neighbours? At Waterfront Isle, the penthouse unit has over 500 upstairs neighbours! (As everyone in the development can access the sky terrace and jump above your head.)
  • Moreover, counterintuitively, the penthouses here are actually MORE expensive than the smaller units (in terms of psf), making the quantum very high (over $4 million per unit.) Typically, larger units (or units with more outdoor space) have lower psf, but the agent told me that the developer actually did the opposite!

In summary, I really liked Waterfront Isle but would like to see more waterfront developments to gauge what the baseline competition is like so see you again next week!

This article was first published in Stackedhomes.